Small Bluetooth speakers for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad seem to be the current rage. Recently, I did a review of the Logitech Mini Boombox, an amazing small speaker that packs a punch. However, I felt that the bass end on that speaker was bit on the weak side. Satechi has recently come out with the new BT Wireless Pocket Speaker (US$44.99) with a unique patented fold-out resonator that is designed to boost the bass without increasing the size of the speaker. How did this work? Read on for a full review of this little speaker.
The design of the Satechi BT Wireless Pocket Speaker is completely unique. It's a small four-sided blob that is reminiscent of a small turtle. There are no visible buttons -- they're hidden under a chrome bezel strip that winds its way around the exterior of the device. On top of the speaker is a rounded area that, when rotated, causes a resonator to pop out. While the drawings in the user manual seem to show the resonator more than doubling the height of the speaker, it actually only pops up about a half-inch.
The Pocket Speaker comes with a USB to mini-USB cable for charging, as well as a small pouch for protection. On the bottom of the speaker is a short cable that neatly tucks into place if you'd prefer to plug the Pocket Speaker into your iPhone's headphone jack or chain several of the Pocket Speakers together to make an über-speaker.
It's cute, it's tiny, and it is attractively priced. But how does the Satechi BT Wireless Pocket Speaker sound?
The speaker pairs with your iPhone, iPad, or pretty much any Bluetooth device. The pairing process is simple -- you press and hold the power button (designated by the universal power icon on the chrome bezel) until you see the blue light flashing. Once that happens, going into Settings > General > Bluetooth reveals the unpaired device, and typing in 0000 as the pairing code makes the connection.
Unlike the more expensive Mini Boombox, the Pocket Speaker is not a stereo speaker. Basically, you're getting monaural sound from the device and hooking up more of them in series is only going to give you monaural sound from a bunch of speakers. Multiple speakers would make the sound louder, but wouldn't give it true stereo.
The volume is adjusted either on the device or using the Music app controls. I found it worked best to turn the Pocket Speaker's volume to the maximum and then use the Music controls to adjust the level.
The maximum volume on the Pocket Speaker isn't all that loud. While the Logitech Mini Boombox would work admirably to blast music at a noisy party, the Pocket Speaker would probably be drowned out by conversation. I didn't find the sound quality to be as good as that of the Mini Boombox either -- a side by side comparison showed that the resonator on the Pocket Speaker, while a good idea, just didn't add any "punch" to the bass. Both of the speakers are rather weak and low in terms of bass, but that just seems to be a side effect of small size.
Like many of the other speakers of this type, the Pocket Speaker can be used as a speaker phone for your iPhone as well. The same button that allows you to turn up the volume or go to the next track on a playlist also answers an incoming call, while the play/pause and power button also serves to reject or end a call. Note that the Pocket Speaker doesn't have a built-in microphone -- instead, it's using the microphone on your iPhone.
Finally, the speaker "Safety Rules" in the owner's manual gave me a good laugh, especially rule number 3 -- "Take note that this speaker is not edible and should not be placed in your mouth."
This is without a doubt the smallest Bluetooth speaker that I've seen so far, and it works reasonably well. The small size of it keeps the bass sounding rather weak despite the innovative design of the resonator, and it's not a stereo speaker, so if you're looking for big bass and good stereo separation, look elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you just need a small travel speaker that doesn't take up a lot of room, works as a speaker phone, and has an eye-catching design, then the Pocket Speaker might be the one for you. The low price is also a plus for the Pocket Speaker. Satechi also has an even smaller speaker that is designed for the iPhone and iPod touch -- the SD Mini Portable Pocket Speaker -- that sells for $29.99. Kudos to Satechi for creating these tiny speakers and making them affordable for everyone.